Hello from Malawi!

Day two out in the heat has been another encouraging day, but a little bit more of a reality check than yesterday. We were lucky enough to visit two Kids Clubs, both in their second year of funding (as opposed to the third year ones yesterday), and this was apparent.

we_see_hope_six_degrees_malawi_trip_2016_kidsclub5The first club we visited gave us a very warm reception (something we are coming accustomed to in this friendly country) – we were greeted by what seemed to be over 100 singing children all in blue and yellow uniforms. Similar to the day before, we were introduced to the village chief, Kids Club Task Force and the volunteers and then we took turns to stand up and tell the village and children a little about ourselves – a bit of a daunting task in front of such a big crowd!

It is so fantastic to see how the children and their community are really proud of the Kids Club activities, and how they take such delight and pride in showing us the finished products of their hard work, whether it be singing, dancing or a hula hoop competition using old bicycle wheels. Friendly competition seems to be a strong theme in the clubs, and we took part in running around with a bottle on our heads and a sack race (…only to be shamefully defeated in both, which the children took great delight in!) The sense of community and friendship among the children was shown when the victors were carried off on the shoulders of their peers. We said our goodbyes in a flurry of bubbles and stickers, before setting off for the next project.

(On our way to the project we stopped for lunch in a large shopping centre, making the disparity of wealth between the people who have and the people who don’t very apparent, a theme which is hard to get used to.)

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The second Kids Club followed a similar format to the first with introductions, activities, thanksgiving and play time with the kids who were enthused with fist-pumping and high-fiving. It is encouraging to see that the different clubs follow a similar setup as it means there is structure and formality in training and education within each of them. This Kids Club was closer to the urban areas than those we had visited before and this really showed in the way the children dressed and the props they used in their performances (mobiles phones and Sprite bottles.)

One of the older boys read out a poem he had written encapsulating the struggle of orphans in his community and a young girl (around 8 years old) read out another about how HIV is contracted. It is shocking and saddening that these children have to deal with such un-childlike subjects at such a young age. However, it is so important that they are educated and informed about the disease, the challenges that they face and how Kids Club volunteers can help them. The severity of the subject was shown as the other children looked on intently on these performances. Still, fun was had in tugs of war and sack races much to our embarrassment…again.

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We then went on to visit a child headed household – a very tough, sad situation that has really brought home the reality of why WeSeeHope’s involvement in communities such as these is so fundamental to the protection and, ultimately, the survival of the younger generations.

we_see_hope_six_degrees_malawi_trip_2016_kidsclub2The young lady, Zione *, who runs the household is 18 years old and is looking after her orphaned niece and nephew, along with her own two children who were conceived to men who had promised her marriage then run away. The children are 14, six, three and two years old. Zione committed to taking care of her sister’s children, and provides for them by collecting sand from the local river and selling it to the locals for their construction projects. With no child care, she used to have to take the children with her and they had to stand whilst she worked. The reality of the situation is that if Zione isn’t able to work then they can’t eat. Her house is a shack; it was heart-breaking to learn that the roof is so leaky that she has to stand with the children at night when it rains.

However, the seeds of change are being planted; the children now attend school, are members of the local Kids Club, and thewe_see_hope_six_degrees_malawi_trip_2016_kidsclub3 household will be checked on regularly. It is worth noting that the project is still in its early stages but there is constructive change happening in the community that will go on to help Zione, her family and those like them.

Despite the desperation there is a real sense of continued improvement thanks to WeSeeHope and their project partners.

More news from us tomorrow…

*name has been changed to protect confidentiality